Popular as pets, finches are not birds for beginners. Many species require particular temperatures and care that may suit a hobbyist more than a pet owner. But those interested in these often colourful singers may want to keep more than one species. If you want to mix the types of finches you have in a single cage, you'll want to research what species are compatible and which to avoid.
A few general guidelines apply when choosing finches to house together. The birds should be of the same general size and temperament but of different colouration, to avoid conflicts during breeding season. For birds the size of zebra or society finches, each pair needs at least 2 square feet of space in the flight cage. They should also have similar diets to ensure that each bird receives the proper nutrition. Specific species may have exceptions to these guidelines.
Society finches are fairly small birds with brown and white markings. Keep society finches with bronze winged manikin, bluecap or red-cheeked cordon bleu, blue-face or red-headed parrot, cherry, diamond firetail, gold breast waxbill, Gouldian, orange-cheeked waxbill, spice, strawberry, whydahs or zebra finches. You can also keep more than one breeding pair of societies in the same flight cage together. They are compatible with long-tail grass, Melba, owl and painted firetail finches, as well as red eye-striped waxbills, but the pairs may interfere with breeding.
Zebra finches are among those most commonly available in pet shops. Named for the striped pattern on their feathers, they have bright orange beaks that make them instantly recognisable. Keep zebra finches with bluecap cordon bleu, cut-throat, green or grey singers, long-tail grass, society or spice finches. While they are also compatible with bronze-winged manikins, diamond firetails, gold-breasted waxbills, Gouldians, Java rice, nuns, orange-cheeked waxbills, red eye-stripe waxbills and other zebra finches, the pairs may interfere with breeding.
Gold Breasted Waxbills
Gold-breasted waxbills are small -- about 3 inches long -- and have bright orange bellies. Both sexes have a bright red stripe over the eye, which is brighter on males than females. Males also have more orange than females. You can keep them in single pairs with single pairs of bronze-winged manikins, long-tail grassfinches, orange-cheeked waxbills, red eye-striped waxbills and whydahs. They also can be kept with pairs of their own kind, but might interfere with breeding when kept with society or zebra finches.
Red Eye-Stripe Waxbills
Red eye-stripe waxbill is a term used to describe three different species: black-rumped, common and rosy-rumped waxbills. Their common characteristic is a red stripe over the eye, which can look like an extension of its beak. Red eye-stripes are compatible in single pairs with single pairs of bronze-winged manikins, bluecap cordon bleus, gold-breasted waxbills, Gouldians, owl finches, spice finches and whydahs. They also can be kept with pairs of their own kind, but might interfere with breeding when kept with society or zebra finches.
Many types of finches readily available as pets are less social than the above species. These include African red heads, bronze-winged manikins, blue cap or red-cheeked cordon bleus, blue face or red head parrot finches, cherry finches, cutthroats, diamond firetails, European goldfinches, fire finches, Gouldians, green or grey singers, Java rice finches, long-tail grassfinches, Melbas, nuns, orange-cheeked waxbills, owl finches, painted firetails, silverbills, spice finches, star finches, strawberries and whydahs. Investigate before pairing these birds with other species, and don't mix pairs of the same species.
The more aggressive finch species that can sometimes be found for purchase as pets should not be housed with other species or in multiple pairs. These include weavers, bullfinches, Pekin robins, Saffron's finch, tanagers and Combassou's finch. Their aggression may not be limited to other birds. Typically, finches aren't as tame as other pet birds, like parrots or budgies, and aggressive species may not take well to an invasive hand in their cage.